Major Lead 07 - How To Improvise In Any Key

I have added this lesson just to make sure everyone is confident improvising in any major key. All this involves is moving the major scale shape up or down the neck so that the root (first note) of the scale matches the key of the song.

To do this, all you need to know is the name of each note on string 6 (thickest string). If you are new to what each note is called, what sharps and flats are etc check out this video from my Beginners Course.

To get you started improvising in other keys, this course includes 3 free audio backing tracks that you can practice this improvising idea over. You’ll find these in the dashboard are of this website when you sign up.

It will forever be free to sign up to this website, and by doing so you get these free backing tracks, free ebooks as well as being able to save your favourite lessons and track your progress. Basically, it’s all the benefits of a subscription website - free! Sign up and get your free backing tracks here.

Simple Method To Know The Key To Any Song Instantly

Knowing what key a song is in can be very tricky. However, there is a simple way to know they key of a song straight away, especially if thesong includes mainly major chords.

Here’s three things to look for when first thinking about the key of a song;

  1. First chord

  2. Last chord

  3. Most Common chord

Not all of these have to be the case, and this does not work every time. However, for simple 3, 4 or 5 chord songs, the rules above tend to apply no matter what ey the song may be in.

Let’s take this simple chord sequence below.

|C                        |F                        |G                        |C                        |

By now, you should know this chord progression is in the key of C either from general knowledge, or because it ticks all three points above. 

Let’s look at a longer, more complex sequence.

|C                        |G                        |Am                        |F                        |

|C                        |Am                     |C                           |F                   |

C is the first chord of each line and C is the most common chord, but it is not the last chord. This is still in the key of C, even though not every rule applies. Remember, these three things are not the reason a song is in a certain key, they are just a quick way to get an idea of what they key is without the need to memorise every chord in every key.

Common Guitar Keys

The most common guitar keys, therefore the ones to practice first and get comfortable playing in are (in order easier to harder) C, G, D, A and E. This is because there are fewer sharps and flats and fewer barre chords in the easier keys, so it is easier to find the chords in the key.

Here are the chords of each of these common keys written out for your future reference.

Key of C major; C - Dm - Em - F - G - Am

Key of G major; G - Am - Bm - C - D - Em

Key of D major; D - Em - F#m - G - A - Bm

Key of A major; A - Bm - C#m - D - E - F#m 

Key of E major; E - F#m - G#m - A - B - C#m

The keys of A major and E major are also commonly associated with Rock and blues genres, which can be more based on the minor pentatonic scale. If that is of interest to you, check out my Rock Lead Guitar Course, which has a much larger focus on learning licks and techniques for improvisation using the minor pentatonic and other related Rock and Blues scales.

Learn more about keys in my INTERMEDIATE GUITAR COURSE HERE

Next Up: Major Lead 08 - Intervals (major VS pentatonic)

Well done! Let's jump into the next lesson of the course.